A lot of people are getting excited about the redbuds and wild plumbs blooming and coloring up the woods and creek bottoms this time of year.
What a lot of folks don’t realize though, and the reason I am anxious to see it warm up every spring, is that there are also things getting colored up in the creeks — in the water… beautiful little fish called darters.
Darters are members of the family Percidae, which includes popular games fish species such as walleye, sauger, and yellow perch, and a host of lesser-known species, collectively referred to as darters.
Forty-one species of the Percidae family have been recognized in Missouri to this date. Other variations and subspecies may be separated and raised to their own separate species level in years to come.
The majority of darter species in Missouri are found in the Ozarks and the fall line areas draining into the lowlands. There are several beautifully colored species in the Ozark areas and a few in the lowlands, like the slough darter, that are absolutely beautiful during their breeding season.
My favorite, and arguably the two most beautiful darters in the state of Missouri, are the rainbow darter and the brook darter.